BIG COUNTRY, Texas ( – When severe weather strikes, we know how to make sure our families are safe. But what about your four-legged friends?

Thunder, rain, and high winds are scary enough for anyone caught in the middle, but for a house pet severe weather can cause an all-out panic.  

Dr. Janice Price, owner and operator of Windmill Animal Hospital in Abilene, told BigCountryHomepage that, as a pet owner herself, “many dogs are sensitive to when the wind starts blowing. Others can hear the thunder off in the distance before we can.”

Dr. Price explained how pets learn how to recognize what they are afraid of.  

Because of this, Dr. Price advised that it’s best to catch storm anxiety early on, if at all. She said to keep an eye on your animal’s behavior when thunderstorms are on the way.

Certain mannerisms to look out for include: 

  • Restlessness
  • Pacing
  • Excessive panting
  • Whining

While instinct may tell you to comfort your furry friend with pets, this may be a step in the wrong direction. That behavior is positively reinforcing negative behavior, according to Dr. Price.

“You are rewarding them for being agitated,” Dr. Price said.

This vet recommended practicing your severe weather plan with your pets. Having a familiar routine can put your pets at ease even in scary situations.  

Having a bag prepped is also a good idea.

Make sure to include:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Leash
  • Medications
  • Comfort items (treats, toys)

Melissa O’Neil, President of the Taylor Jones Humane Society, suggested thunder shirts for pets with higher storm anxiety. She also emphasized that for some pets, the instinct is to run. If your pet does happen to get out, O’Neil said to, “check the humane, check the shelter, and make sure they’re microchipped.”

According to Dr. Price, more than 90% of microchipped dogs make their way home again.  

If you still see your pets reacting strongly to thunderstorms, Dr. Price highly recommended speaking with your veterinarian about medications available to help your pets through stressful situations.